Graffiti CMS


For several weeks now, I've been working with a new tool from the folks at Telligent (they wrote Community Server, the software that runs blogs.msdn.com) called Graffiti CMS. The CMS in this case stands for "content made simple" and Graffiti, in my experience, really delivers on this idea.

Graffiti sits somewhere in between a blog engine and a content management system. Adding content is as simple as posting to a blog (and you can even use tools like Windows Live Writer to publish content to Graffiti), but you can also easily customize your site by changing themes (or creating your own), adding links, or if you really want to go wild, by creating widgets and/or plug-ins.

Graffiti has a free express edition available that supports a single site and up to three content contributor accounts. imageI'm now running a handful of sites on Graffiti (full disclosure...Telligent provided me with a server license for Graffiti for personal use), including my local church softball team site, for which I created a Theme (called, appropriately enough, Softball) and a plug-in that renders a Virtual Earth map based on a Windows Live Maps collection. Both the theme and the plug-in are now available on the Graffiti Marketplace from within your Graffiti control panel, so if you're using Graffiti try them out and let me know what you think.

You can see them in action in the screenshot to the left.

Another cool plug-in you might want to take a look at is the Graffiti UserGroups plug-in/theme combo from Alexander Groß. I downloaded and played with it a bit and it's pretty cool. The only downside I see is that by default it requires the use of their custom theme, which prevents me from using it. It should be possible, however, to modify another theme to display the information, so I might end up using this.

What's cool about Graffiti is that it's very quick and simple to set up, and doesn't require any special knowledge to get started with. And as a .NET developer, the fact that widgets and plug-ins are easy to write by simply extending some of Graffiti's built-in classes is a big bonus.

I've also written a widget for my colleague Brian Hitney's Worldmaps service. The widget takes a WorldMaps user ID and displays a thumbnail map of the hits for that account in the sidebar (if you don't provide a user ID, it will display a map of all hits for all WorldMaps accounts). You can choose between a 200 pixel or 160 pixel wide thumbnail, and can optionally have the map expand on mouseover to show a more detailed version of the map, all without knowing a lick of javascript. The WorldMaps widget is not available on the Graffiti marketplace, so if you'd like to try that one, just drop me a line, and I'll be happy to send it to you.

Comments (4)

  1. Andrew,

    thanks for the feedback. Graffiti-UserGroups does not require the theme that comes with the download. The theme is just there to make the intial setup a no-brainer and to have a demo theme that shows how the plugins/macros could be used.

    Akex

  2. DEvHammer says:

    @Alex:

    I kinda figured. I should’ve been clearer that it looked to be possible to use without your theme, though it would mean customizing one’s preferred theme a bit. Sorry for any confusion.

  3. Dan Kline says:

    Thanks for your review.  Have you had time to dig deeper?  I’ve just finished my theme (it was a great lesson on CSS for screenpainters like me. I’m now in the resource gathering stage and trying to lear everything I can.  The MS MVC preview looks to provide a lot of very similar capabilty (including nVelocity rendering) but without the chalk.  It would be good to see a follow up to this article with sore resource links.  Graffiti looks like a great product.  I hope the community can continue to push the development of extensions and add-ons.

  4. DEvHammer says:

    @Dan Kline:

    I’ve been using Graffiti with several sites for a while now, and I’m still very happy with it. They recently announced the beta availability of a 1.1 release that will include the ability to apply permissions/access restrictions on various content, which will be very helpful for one of the sites that I’m using Graffiti for.

    From what I understand the new release also supports a new deployment mechanism called packages which allows you to provide add-ins that provide more than per-post functionality. According to one of their forum posts, they’re looking to have the final release out the door by the end of June. I’m looking forward to it.

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